Jeff Smith: "Everything we do is a test"

Ronny Kerr · February 4, 2010 · Short URL:

Vator Splash Keynote: Smule CEO talks about how his company approaches a completely changed market

Jeff SmithSmule CEO Jeff Smith just wrapped up his keynote at VatorSplash, in which he discussed how his company, developer of wildly popular sonic iPhone applications like I Am T-Pain, Leaf Trombone, and Ocarina, is engaging with an increasingly transforming technology sector.

Envisioning a revolution in recorded sound, Smule hopes that its applications will usher in an era of active sound creation and listening, fundamentally opposed to the passive experience of recorded music in the past. Smule applications are interactive platforms that have slowly been massing huge social networks made up of musicians and non-musicians from all over the world. Still in its infancy, Smith's company is committed to building and nurturing that network behind its products.

The biggest point Smith hit home in his talk was the fact that all the rules of the market have totally and irrevocably changed. To tackle a market so alien to everyone, even the most experienced among us, Smule has taken a highly experimental approach:

"The discipline we have at Smule is that we don't know anything," explains Smith. "We are completely naive."

He illuminated a rough three-step outline of how ideas turn into products at Smule: postulate, test, and measure. Smith, hoping that no one at the company takes anything for granted so that unseen opportunities can blossom in multiple directions, claims that "everything we do is a test."

Coming from the CEO of a company with products like Sonic Lighter and Leaf Trombone, such a statement is not so unbelievable.

And, since Smule has counted 40 million songs shared on its Ocarina app alone, this startup must be doing something right.

Smith shared one tangible example of how Smule is evolving with the market by showing a slide full of screenshots of people using Smule products with the headline, "Chief Marketing Officer(s)," emblazoned at the top. Clearly Smule understands the awesome power of viral marketing, and users are doing more than half the work by sharing videos of themselves using the product.

The audience was then treated to a few actual videos currently shared on YouTube.

Before he left the stage, Smith answered a question about how the iPad changes things for Smule. The answer is simple: more platforms and more customers is always fantastic news for a startup.

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Smule develops interactive sonic applications for the iPhone and other technology platforms.   Smule is developing the new sonic network, connecting users across the globe through expressive audio.  Smule's Ocarina, I Am T-Pain, and Leaf Trombone have set the standard for iPhone applications, combining innovative uses of the hardware with compelling social experiences. 

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